Record Label: FeelTrip/Englophile Records/Old Flame
Rating: 6.8 /10
‘4 young riff-raffs with a taste for musical adventure’ is how Chicago collective, YAWN typify themselves via the power of Facebook. This feeling of exploratory leanings ring true with the band’s latest LP, ‘Love Chills’. This a record that evolves, morphs and distorts more times than Joan Rivers’ face has done during her 100 years on Planet Earth. YAWN project themselves as a unit that take inspiration from a broad sonic tapestry, coming off like a less tropical Yesayer/Vampire Weekend hybrid fused to The Postal Service whilst their electronic gadgetry is on the blink, ‘Love Chills’ positions itself as an album with a familiar appeal albeit with a distinct flavour that can be hard to pinpoint. Such is the lure of YAWN’s new album, it keeps you guessing – what will happen next? What sound is that? Who does that remind me of? ‘Love Chills’ asks more questions than it does answer them but I’d assume YAWN want it that way.
‘Love Chills’ ripples with a calm, ADHD temperament – no one song begins or ends the same. Many tracks shudder with a shadowy undertone but any macabre notions are diluted by a sweet backing vocal harmony or layered electronic waft. ‘Flytrap’ saws and grinds with a guitar texture more attuned to something you’d find on a building site, nevertheless any sugariness is attributed to a falsetto vocal and a joyful staccato bounce. Swelling sounds and shifting soundscapes ensures ‘Wasting Waiting’ develops from a sinister figure lurking in dimly light alley ways to a track that beams with a radiant mid-section thanks to an ethereal hue. Awkward rhythms and jittering arrangements crop up on the likes of ‘Follow You’ and ‘Mylene’, which injects intermittent bursts of urgency to ‘Love Chills’.
Juxtaposition is rife on YAWN’s new album; it’s difficult to determine if the album shimmers with a joyful, carefree bent or if ‘Love Chills’ is a troubled, downbeat document. ‘Mylene’ is perhaps a good indication of where YAWN are coming from “Please don’t let me go/to that other world” can be interpreted as a direct fear of death or the unknown or indeed an uncomfortable situation. Not unlike the sonic cloth the album is cut from, the ever-changing moods during its 10 tracks point you in many different directions, it’s hard to know which way is up.
With so many shifting elements to ‘Love Chills’ maintaining a firm grasp on what’s happening is a challenge and with it, identifying standout tracks or a lynchpin sound is akin to predicting the weather from inside a windowless house. YAWN have illustrated their knack at fusing a plethora of ideas and styles; given a little refining and focus, they could create something very special indeed. ‘Love Chills’ has put them on the right path, let’s hope they follow their hearts and not their heads.
Word and Thoughts of Adam Williams